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靠YouTube为生的网红“播主”及其制作团队

Feeding algorithms is a full-time job
靠YouTube为生的网红“播主”及其制作团队

Most mornings after Grace Lee wakes up, she spends two hours thinking up ideas for her YouTube channel, What’s So Great About That?, a series focused around popular films and TV programmes. Lee, a 24-year-old from Peterborough, England, researches ideas, then writes scripts that help explain the concepts to her 29,000 viewers.

来自英国彼得伯勒(Peterborough)的格蕾丝·李(Grace Lee)今年24岁,在油管(Youtube)上拥有一档属于自己的节目,名叫《这有什么大不了的?》,主要关注时下流行的电影和电视节目。每天早上醒来后,她都要花两个小时思考节目内容,想到点子后开始写视频脚本,向节目的29,000名观众展示自己的想法。

After that, she moves onto her work for another channel, The Financial Diet, a financial advice organisation with 630,000 subscribers. There, she researches and edits a series of animated explainer and life-hack videos.

随后,她便转到另一个名叫《金融饮食》的节目——一个拥有63万订阅者的金融咨询频道。她的工作是负责研究和编辑了一系列解说生活小窍门的视频。

“I’ve been on YouTube since the year it started, but I didn’t know about professional help for YouTubers until I was in my second year at university,” Lee explains. “I still forget, with the people I watch, that they have a team – even though I’m part of a team.”

李解释说:“油管一问世,我就开始使用了,但是直到大二,我才知道原来这些播主都有专业人士在背后帮忙。虽然现在我也是这一团队中的一份子,但在看视频时还是常常忘记这件事。”

Such arrangements are commonplace. Take, for example, Patrick Starrr, a Filipino-American beauty vlogger with 4.3 million subscribers. He has an entire support team, which includes his manager, publicity manager, business manager, director of operations and video editor. He brought them on stage to VidCon London, a YouTube conference held last month, to show how many people it takes to produce his show.

播主(Youtuber)聘请专业人士的情况其实很常见。就拿美籍菲律宾裔美妆视频播主斯塔尔(Patrick Starrr)来说吧,这位拥有430万订阅用户的播主背后是一个庞大的队伍,包括经纪人、公关经理、商业经理、运营总监和视频剪辑师。上个月,在伦敦举行的油管视频大会上,他将整个团队带到了台前,向大家展示节目汇集了多少人的心血。

“Did you guys ever think that I would have this many people?” he asked the audience. “Boy this is expensive.”

他问观众:“你们没有想到我有一支这么庞大的队伍吧?朋友们,请他们超贵的。”

From ‘Broadcast Yourself’ to broadcast TV

从“展示自我”变成“电视节目”

It’s a far cry from the YouTube ideal of “Broadcast Yourself”, the site’s motto from 2005 until 2012. Today, it’s increasingly difficult to take on the challenges of being a modern-day YouTuber without a support network. And it all has to do with how the site’s celebrities make money.

从2005年到2012年,油管的理念一直都是“展示自我”,但如今,要是没有团队的支持,想要成为网红播主越来越难,而这与网红的盈利模式有关。

“It’s about feeding the algorithm and having enough content,” explains Sophie Bishop, teaching fellow in digital humanities at King’s College, London. “Being good at creating fun and engaging content is not the same as being good at time management and contacting brands and ensuring you’ve got enough brand collaborations to sustain you throughout the month.”

伦敦大学国王学院(King's College, London)数字人文学科的助教毕晓普(Sophie Bishop)解释说:“训练算法和提供充足的内容是关键。善于创造有趣且引人入胜的内容,并不代表擅长时间管理和拉赞助,作为播主,你要确保有足够支撑整月收入的品牌合作。”

As a result, people like Grace Lee and Londoner Konstantin Ermakov, 26, have become invaluable members of big YouTubers’ support teams. Ermakov is a professional videographer and video editor who works for YouTubers including The Sidemen, the collective of creators set up by Olajide “KSI” Olatunji, who uploads music videos and general lifestyle content, and Brian “True Geordie” Davis, who hosts football videos and runs an eponymous podcast.<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->

所以,像李和埃尔马科夫(Konstantin Ermakov)这样的人成为了庞大支柱团队中的“无价之宝”。今年26岁的埃尔马科夫来自伦敦,是一名专业的摄像师和视频编辑,服务对象主要是油管播主,其中包括“希德门”(Sidemen)。“希德门”由KSI欧拉屯吉(Olajide "KSI" Olatunji)和戴维斯(Brian "True Geordie" Davis)共同创建,前者主要上传音乐和生活方式的视频,后者负责上传足球视频和运营同名播客。

Ermakov started out shooting music videos for artists in London’s grime scene, then juggled corporate work before landing jobs filming and editing for YouTube. It quickly took over his professional life. “YouTube right now is my main focus, and I work with creators pretty much on a daily basis,” he explains.

埃尔马科夫最早是为伦敦的艺术家们拍摄音乐视频,在为油管网红们拍摄和剪辑视频之前,他一直做着正常工作。但油管上的业务很快就成了他的主业。他解释道:“我现在注意力基本都放在油管上,几乎每天都在与视频播主合作。”

Ermakov believes that he and other freelance support staff are the beneficiaries of a YouTube-wide arms race. More than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it increasingly difficult to cut through the chaff and build a reputation on the site.

在他看来,他们这些自由职业者是油管“军备竞赛”的受益者。每分钟有400多个小时的视频被上传到油管上,想要“突出重围”、“声名大噪”越来越难。

YouTubers also try to game the algorithm, the black box that drives YouTube and recommends videos to its 1.9 billion logged-in users. Though few people know the secrets of the algorithm, it’s widely accepted that it promotes high-quality videos, regularly uploaded, of decent length, that encourage users to dwell on the site for longer. YouTube did not respond to requests for comment.

油管播主还要与算法竞赛。如果把油管比作飞机,那么算法就是它的黑匣子,它会向19亿登陆用户推荐视频。虽然几乎人没什么知道其中的奥秘,但人们普遍认为算法倾向于推荐高质量的视频和经常上传视频的播主——这些内容吸引用户在油管逗留更长的时间。但油管并没有回应算法的推荐原理。

Essentially, successful YouTubers are asked to produce mini-TV episodes of broadcast quality that are engaging and exciting on a near-daily basis – all while juggling the stresses of running a start-up business. As a result, creators who can afford it need all the help they can get to stand out.

从本质上讲,成功的油管播主既要制作高质量的迷你系列影片(几乎每天播出,内容引人入胜),还要兼顾经营初创企业的压力。所以,想要脱颖而出,你必须既要有能力,还要能获得力所能及的各种帮助。

“The idea is to eventually build up to a point where you’re doing such high-production stuff that the competition can’t keep up,” says Ermakov. “They could easily put a camera on a tripod and film themselves, but they’re looking to step things up.”

埃尔马科夫说:“我们的想法是生产大量视频,让竞争对手无法跟上。拍摄自己很容易,只要把相机架在三脚架上就行,但他们可能需要更频繁地更新视频了。”

There is a fine line between professionalisation and keeping the anarchic, homegrown aesthetic of YouTube. “Engagement will switch off and the audience will feel like they’re just watching a TV programme” if you’re too slick, says Ermakov.

纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/

在专业化与油管的无政府主义、自成一格的审美间有一条微妙的界线。埃尔马科夫说:“如果你太老练,观众会觉得他们只是在看电视节目。”

Spreading the fame

声名远扬

Most YouTubers don’t shy away from admitting they have help. Indeed, the support staff can sometimes be standalone celebrities in their own rights. Fans of British YouTuber and musician Dodie are equally invested in the comings and goings of her manager, Josh Edwards.

大多数油管播主并不羞于承认自己接受别人帮助。事实上,这些幕后人员有时可以凭借自己的能力成为独立的名人。音乐人多迪(Dodie)的粉丝同样关注她的经纪人爱德华兹(Josh Edwards)的动态。

Edwards features in the video partly because he’s an engaging character, but also out of practicality – he follows Dodie to many of her events, advising her on her music career. Make-up and fashion YouTuber Tanya Burr’s personal assistant regularly features in her videos, while Zoe “Zoella” Sugg, one of Britain’s most popular YouTubers, regularly calls on her office staff for ideas in videos.

爱德华兹之所以会出现在视频中,部分原因是他的人格魅力,还因为他做事踏实,跟随多迪参加了许多活动,为她的音乐生涯提供建议。美妆和时尚播主伯尔(Tanya Burr)的私人助理也经常出现在她的视频中,而英国最受欢迎的油管用户之一佐拉(Zoe "Zoella" Sugg)经常向她的办公室工作人员征求视频创意。

Including the behind-the-scenes staff is a conscious decision by creators aware they are answerable to their audience. Authenticity – or the impression of it – is a big part of a YouTuber’s online persona.

创作者知道自己要对观众负责,使用幕后团队是一个慎重的决定。营造“真实性”是油管用户线上形象的重要组成部分。

“They’ve chosen to do it because there’s no façade that they’re making this content on their own anymore,” says Bishop. “No one is thinking that Zoella is independently producing her own stuff.”

毕晓普说:“他们之所以选择这样做,是因为他们不用再假装是自己制作的内容,因为现在已经没人会觉得佐拉是凭一己之力制作视频。”

However, it’s no longer just big YouTubers who are farming out tasks. While the best editors for the biggest YouTubers can earn six figures a year, the gig economy provides a more affordable solution for would-be YouTubers.

然而,任务外包不仅仅局限于粉丝量大的用户。虽然最红的用户的最佳剪辑师每年能挣到六位数,但零工经济为潜在的油管播主提供了一种更实惠的解决方案。

A new side hustle

一种新兴的副业

Master’s student Nevena Deljanin, 27, is studying in Belgrade but earns between $800 and $1,000 a month editing videos for other people – around twice the average monthly wage in Serbia.

今年27岁德佳宁(Nevena Deljanin)还在贝尔格莱德读研究生。虽然还是一名学生,但她每个月通过剪辑视频能获得800美元到1000美元不等的收入,是塞尔维亚平均月收入的两倍。

She’s one of more than 6,000 people advertising their editing prowess on Fiverr, a work-for-hire website. She started editing her own videos, then realised she could do the same for others. Now, she’s completed 150 edits for various clients through Fiverr in the last year.

招聘网站“五美元服务区”(Fiverr)上像她这样宣传自己的剪辑能力的人还有6000多名。她一开始只剪辑自己的视频,后来她意识到可以为其他人提供这样的服务。在过去的一年里,她已经通过“五美元服务区”为不同的客户提供了150次剪辑服务。

“This is basically my full-time job,” she explains. “I usually work from 9am until 5pm. It’s great that I work from home and I can organise my schedule how it suits me, and have enough time for my other responsibilities.”

“这基本上算是我的全职工作了,”她解释道。“工作时间通常是早上9点到下午5点。能在家工作感觉很棒,因为我可以根据需要安排时间,而且有充足的时间做其他事情。”

She's not likely to run out of work: amid the stresses of posting regular, high-quality content to the algorithm, more and more creators are farming out video editing to third parties. It’s becoming the new normal.

她还不用担心失业。为了获得算法的推荐,播主必须定期发布高质量的内容,面对这种压力,越来越多的播主选择将视频编辑业务外包给第三方。这也正成为一种新常态。

“To do this as a job, you need to be on top of everything,” says Bishop: “Brand deals, merchandise and more. There are so many other aspects of the job beyond creating content.”

毕晓普说:“这份工作需要你掌控一切,不仅仅是创作内容,还有很多其他方面,比如拉赞助、营销等等。”

While YouTube initially set itself up as the opposite of the Hollywood production system, it’s looking increasingly like the old media it’s trying to replace.

油管虽然自诩为“好莱坞的对手”,但似乎也走上了旧媒体的老路。

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